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Slovenian, South Korean Execs Discuss Boosting Coop

Ljubljana, 26 October (STA) - A Slovenian-South Korean conference on trade and investment ties was staged in Ljubljana on Friday, featuring some 120 meetings between 12 Korean companies and their potential Slovenian partners in a bid to boost economic ties between the two countries.

South Korea is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing economies in the world, ranking eighth in the 2013 Doing Business survey, Economic Development and Technology Ministry state secretary Uroš Rožič said in the opening address.

"Slovenia has yet to make such a leap, and we're now trying our best," Rožič stressed, pointing to the planned labour market and pension reforms and measures for improving business environment.

"Slovenia is a small market, which is why promoting internationalisation is one of our priorities," the state secretary added, noting that today's event was aimed at improving the slow trade between the two countries.

Tanja Drobnič of the Public Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) said that Slovenia, which had exported EUR 20.5bn worth of goods and services last year, mostly to the EU, wanted to refocus.

"Some 72% of total exports went to the EU countries, which is something that we want to change," she stressed.

Turning to South Korea, Drobnič noted that Slovenian exports to the country had stood at EUR 38.6m last year, while imports totalled EUR 205.6m, which presented a lot of opportunities for boosting economic cooperation.

Slovenia's FDI in Korea stood at EUR 4.3m, most of which were made by industrial group Kolektor, while direct investment of the Asian country in Slovenia amounted to EUR 3.4m.

"We believe that this forum will allow us to make a step forward and show the business community that there is still a lot of potential," Drobnič said, pointing to quality workforce, infrastructure, ties to regional markets and high quality of life.

While the work force is not cheap, it is educated and people have excellent IT skills and knowledge of foreign language.

Sejin An, the economic attache at the South Korean Embassy in Vienna, meanwhile said that many similarities existed between the two countries, as they were both excellent entry points for doing business in their respective regions.

As part of the forum, organised by the Foreign Ministry and JAPTI, a memorandum was signed on cooperation between the Slovenian agency and Korea's importers association KOIMA.

Korea's economy, with major branches being textile, steel, automotive, shipbuilding and electronics, grew by 3.6% last year, while estimates say it will grow by further 3% in 2012.

A member of the OECD, APEC and WTO, Korea reached a free trade agreement with the EU last year.

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